Building a community: Peyton, Branding – good; Free stuff, not so good

It can be complicated building an online community

I’m sorry the Super Bowl is over.

Back in November, I posted on how Colts QB Peyton Manning prepares.  People read it back then, but I got nowhere near as many hits as I have in the past two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl (the NFL can come after me if it wants but I refuse to refer to it as the Big Game).  And today, now that the game is over, only a few stragglers have clicked in from what I presume is a Google, Bing or WordPress search.

My blogging goal is to build a community of people who believe in the principles of Bulldog Simplicity.  In some ways, I hope my readers help me better define those principles.  In other ways, I hope to influence people to simplify the way they approach their lives and work.

So I realize that many of the people who found this blog through a Peyton Manning search left irritated.  “Damn, a business blog,” many of them no doubt muttered and clicked over to Matthew Berry on  But I fantasize (perhaps too strong a word) that some of those people liked what I wrote, looked at other postings, and perhaps bookmarked me for another look somewhere down the line.  Each of them is welcome to join the community.

I keep an eye on what drives traffic to this blog…and what drives comments.  One of the ways I’m trying to build traffic and followers is by posting links on my LinkedIn groups.  Personal Branding posts do extremely well…presumably because many of my group members are also looking for work and are frustrated by the lack of responses they receive from recruiters or hiring executives.

One post that flopped, to my great surprise, was one at year-end, where I launched a contest where people who commented or subscribed could win one of three great business books that were released in 2009.  Three people read the post, and I received one comment and no subscriptions from it.  I shamelessly stole the idea from someone who apparently received hundreds of responses from his similar posting so I was really shocked by the lack of response, particularly with the word “Win” in the headline, but it taught me that free isn’t attractive without trust.  And I clearly hadn’t totally built that in my community. 

Launching a blog has been a great experience.  If you had told me I’d have nearly 5,000 hits in just a few months, I’d have told you you were crazy.  Publishing regularly has gotten me back into a deadline mode and helped keep my skills sharp.  I’ve introduced myself to people who I never would have met without it.  And I’ve learned a lot — from my own results and from reading people like Seth Godin, Chris Brogan and many others — about building a social community on the Internet, which will be a great new skill I bring to clients or a new employer. 

How about you?  Any tips for me (and everyone else) on building a stronger community?


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